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“Hope” exhibition: A social portrait of Portugal through the lens of Alfredo Cunha

14 Mar · 10h00

© Alfredo Cunha

At the invitation of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, photographer Alfredo Cunha premieres his “Hope” exhibition, a project intended to portray the current social situation in Portugal, while at the same time showing the reality of the country to Europe. An exhibition that begins and ends with hope.


Divided into four blocks (youth, work, COVID-19 and landscape), the photographs — approximately 150 images — consist of a slideshow representing the country from the 1970s to the present day.

A journey through the exhibition

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Originally designed to be presented in virtual format, Alfredo Cunha wanted to start “by portraying youth in the good times”.

Jovens A002

© Alfredo Cunha


This is followed by a group of photographs alluding to work, to the productive fabric. Suddenly, we have a country suspended due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Dramatic photographs are shown here, many of them taken in hospitals, with the aim of reflecting all the hard work done to deal with the health emergency”.

Trabalho A001

© Alfredo Cunha


However, not wanting to perpetuate the image of “a country shackled by fear”, the block devoted to the pandemic ends with a picture of a smiling nurse, in an allusion to the promise of better days to come.

Covid A002

© Alfredo Cunha


Then, we have the transition to the landscape area, which begins with a view of Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, completely empty, slowly changing as normality begins to return. The documentary work ends with a child on a riverbank, “looking to the future; a hopeful time, and which is also intended to encourage us to think about our relationship with nature”.

Paisagem A001 (1)

© Alfredo Cunha

This project gave the photographer an opportunity to document Portugal through a set of black and white images (a technical curiosity: they are all in horizontal format), allied to a humanist and social perspective, which has always marked his career.


According to the artist, the particular nature of this exhibition lies “in its twofold message: showing who we are, but also not hiding our problems, our difficulties, the reason why we need Europe”.


Each block of photographs is accompanied by a carefully chosen theme based on what is portrayed. Consequently, the whole is to be looked at attentively and in silence, with background music only.

Alfredo Cunha

Alfredo Cunha was born in Celorico da Beira in 1953. He began his career as a photographer in 1970, in advertising and marketing photography, moving on the next year to working as a photojournalist for a variety of newspapers and press agencies. He was the official photographer for Portuguese Presidents Ramalho Eanes and Mário Soares and was awarded the Comenda da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique. Of special note in his career is a series of photographs dedicated to the Revolution of 25 April 1974.


© Alfredo Cunha